The castle was repaired in 1252 and 1260, but the style of its hall-keep was then by then a century out of date.  It was later held by the Burgh earls of Ulster and Elizabeth Burgh, the second wife of Robert the Bruce, is said to have grown up here.  The fortress was wrecked by her brother-in-law, Edward Bruce, in 1316.  It was later damaged by the Magennis family from Dundrum in 1375.  It had passed to the Fitz Gerald earls of Kildare by the time of their downfall in 1534 and in 1547 was said to be in a decayed condition.  The Baganals later remodelled the castle as a home.

The fortress began life as a hall house, 70' long by 40' wide, with walls 6' thick.  The structure has pilaster buttresses at the corners and is reminiscent of the hall-keep at Grosmont castle in Wales, which was probably built within 50 years of 1100.  It too was remodelled, having the basement subdivided at a later date.  In the sixteenth century the basement at Greencastle was given double splayed loops and a new entrance with a gunloop.  The early hall was at first floor level and there were garderobes to the east.  A spiral stair to the west, by the original entrance, led to the battlements.  The pilaster buttresses now rise into turrets, but external examination shows clearly that the battlements and probably the garrets are later additions to the original design.

The keep was set in a rhomboidal enclosure 155' long by 120' wide with D shaped towers at the corners.  Thee have mostly disappeared with the curtains, the best preserved portions being to the north-east.  A thirteenth century block was added to the hall to north and south.  The whole was surrounded by a rock cut ditch - again making it very similar to Grosmont.


Copyright©2017 Paul Martin Remfry